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19 Dec 2008 13:42
Opener Gautam Gambhir hit his third century in four Tests to lead India to 179-1 on the truncated first day of the second and final Test against England on Friday.
The in-form Gambhir struck 106 not out and added 173 runs for the second wicket with Rahul Dravid to lift the hosts out of early trouble after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni elected to bat in overcast conditions.
Dravid shook off his poor form by scoring an unbeaten 65 after opener Virender Sehwag fell to Stuart Broad for a third-ball duck in the morning’s second over.
The diminutive Gambhir struck 12 fours and a straight six against off spinner Graeme Swann, reaching his hundred after tea.
Play was called off with 18 overs remaining because of poor light, which had also delayed the start by 20 minutes.
Gambhir had scored a match-winning 104 in the second Test against Australia at Mohali in October and 206 in the drawn third Test in New Delhi.
He then made 66 in Chennai, after sitting out the last Test against Australia due to a disciplinary ban. India won that series 2-0.
England, demoralised by their six-wicket defeat in the first Test in Chennai after India achieved the fourth-highest run target in chasing 387, failed to build on a promising start, often bowling too short.
Gambhir survived a leg-before appeal off James Anderson’s first ball of the day but drove the next past cover for four before quickly settling down.
Broad (22) replaced the off-colour Steve Harmison after recovering from a hamstring injury, and bowled a superb first spell of pace, swing and control.
He beat Sehwag, who hit a blazing 83 to trigger India’s run chase in Chennai, with movement before inducing him to edge a swinging delivery to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Gambhir and Dravid, who made three and four in the first Test to prolong a poor run of form, saw off the testing morning spells by Anderson, Broad and Andrew Flintoff to guide the team to 51-1 at lunch.
Gambhir (27) audaciously flicked over the slip cordon for fours against Anderson and Broad after lunch as England lost their momentum.
Only Swann, who took two wickets in his first over on Test debut in Chennai, created chances as left-arm Monty Panesar, under fire for his poor first Test showing, failed to impress.
However, Swann was unlucky not to remove Gambhir.
Slip fielder Paul Collingwood could only get his fingertips to a thick edge when he was on 70 and two runs later the umpire turned down a confident leg-before appeal.
Dravid swung Anderson to square leg for four in the morning, his first boundary in five innings, and has hit seven fours in his 205-ball effort.—Reuters
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